My father was an institution builder at his core: Satya Nadella


For Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, one of his earliest memories of his father was getting up in the middle of the night and finding him sitting up in his bed reading a thick hardback book.

Remembering his father B.N. Yugandhar, a 1962 batch IAS officer who died in Hyderabad following a brief illness last year at age 82, Nadella wrote in a LinkedIn post on Sunday that he was an institution builder at his core.

Satya Nadella with his parents, circa 1970. (Photo: Courtesy, LinkedIn)

“My father’s work was more than just a job for him. He was ten years old when India became independent, and approximately a dozen or so years later my father joined the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) as a civil servant,” Nadella wrote on the occasion of Father’s Day.

Yugandhar served in the Prime Minister’s Office under PV Narasimha Rao, and also as director of the Mussoorie-based Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration.

“To him this was not a professional career choice, but a calling. There was the fervor of nation-building in the air, and he inhaled it all with an unwavering deep sense of passion and commitment throughout his life,” said an emotional Nadella who, after attending schools in Srikakulam and Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh, Mussoorie, Delhi and Hyderabad e and later flunking an IIT entrance exam e landed in the US.

“The way he combined his work with his life’s passions, the deep meaning he derived from it, has been instrumental in shaping my own views of work and life,” the Microsoft CEO remembered.

Nadella’s father always said that one’s true impact could only be evaluated after that person had moved on from their current assignment.

“It’s the people you mentor and empowers and the culture you build that will have a lasting impact. He was wary of people who walked into new assignments ready to dismantle things before understanding what needed to change or had a real vision for what new capability could be built that would give the institution strength to further its impact,” Nadella emphasized.

In his popular book eHit Refresh,” Nadella wrote: “My father was a civil servant with Marxist leanings and my mother was a Sanskrit scholar. While there is much I learned from my father, including intellectual curiosity and a love of history, I was always my mother’s son”.

Yugandhar (Yugi to his friends and his grandkids) would “say to me that life is a terminal condition, and no one makes it out alive”.

“But one’s life can speak to us by passing on what is most important about being human and how to live. I work and live in a very different context and time. And yet I am guided by the lessons he taught me by living his life to fulfill his passions and principles,” said Nadella.